Research shows that most people can gamble without developing a problem. The keyword being “most”. Those who are unable to keep this hobby under control end up amassing a huge gambling debt. Although falling into debt is demoralising, it’s not the end of the world. You can fix it and prevent it from happening to you again.
People resist accepting gambling as an addiction because there’s no substance to get addicted to as there is with drug addiction or alcoholism. Scientists say we don’t get hooked on the thing we’re consuming or doing, however.
We develop a dependence on the dopamine surges caused by them. The dopamine makes us feel good, and to maintain that feeling, we keep doing the same things over and over again.
Gambling addiction follows many of the same physiological rules as substance abuse. Over time, we develop tolerance, and to get our fix we need to keep increasing the amount of whatever is stimulating the dopamine releases.
The inability to satiate the ever-growing need results in an even greater urge, and so the cycle continues. Researchers have discovered that in addition to getting a jolt of dopamine upon winning a bet, compulsive gamblers get a jolt upon losing too. That makes the addiction much harder to shake.
Getting Out of Debt
The financial difficulties caused by gambling can make the situation seem bleak. First, there’s a lot of stigma surrounding gambling, so people tend to hide their troubles. More often than not, that leads them away from help and toward deeper debts.
Second, gambling debt is commonly divided among different entities such as bookies, casinos, loan sharks, banks, and so on. Finally, gamblers can have a hard time resolving the problem because they are unable to stop generating more debt by gambling.
None of this means that you should give up. Everyone makes mistakes, and most mistakes are solvable. Getting into debt is one of them.
Start by writing down everyone you owe money to and how much you owe them. This will help you get a clear picture of where you stand. Once you’ve taken that first step, you can figure out what options are at your disposal for paying off your gambling debt.
Selling Personal Possessions
You could start by going through your belongings and figuring out what you could sell to get the money as fast as possible. Keep in mind that selling something that is crucial for earning your paycheck, like perhaps a laptop, would be counterproductive.
Earning the Money
If you’ve run out of things to sell, consider getting a second job. Part-time work or something that you could do online, from your own home, might be best. You would be surprised how fast money from a second job accumulates if you make and keep a promise to keep it separate from your living expenses.
Taking Out Loans
It might seem a bit odd to get yet another loan to pay a gambling debt, but who your lender is plays a big role here. If you borrowed money from dangerous people at high interest rates, both you and your loved ones are at risk. It’s best to retire those types of debts first.
You could see if your friends and family are willing to help you out. Of course, you shouldn’t approach them until you are prepared to be completely honest with them about your gambling issues. If they are unable to assist you, you could see if your bank is willing to grant you a loan.
Consolidating small gambling debts into a single sum you borrow from the bank – presumably at a more reasonable rate of interest – is a good way to pay off your smaller gambling debt loans and get clarity about exactly how much you owe. Having a single reputable creditor is another perk of this payment strategy.
Whichever solution you choose, you’ll need to take a hard look at your everyday fixed and optional expenses as well. Until you’ve taken care of your liabilities, reduce all spending to a minimum. Pack a couple of sandwiches instead of going out to lunch in the middle of your workday. Small savings add up.
Bankruptcy should be considered only if you’re left with no other options. It has severe repercussions for your credit history, and it might not give you as clean a slate as you’d like. That said, bankruptcy and gambling debt frequently go hand in hand, as many compulsive gamblers aren’t able to find another way out.
Before filing the bankruptcy paperwork, we recommend consulting with a professional. You may find an alternative, or you may find a way to shelter more of your personal possessions. The more you know, the better.
Preventing Future Debts
Repaying your current debt is close to pointless if you return to losing money on sports betting, casino games, poker or any other form of wagering. The only permanent and foolproof solution is to quit. Based on our research, we have made a list of common and effective tips to stop gambling.
Admit the Problem
All addiction-recovery programs begin with people admitting that they have a problem. There is no shame in it: Working on yourself is never bad. The key is not to simply say it out loud, but to accept the truth of your declaration. Kicking an addiction takes time and effort, and it’s worth it in the end – but to get there you have to be honest with yourself.
So don’t engage in hair-splitting, either, about whether you are a problem gambler or a compulsive gambler or an addict. Gambling put you in debt: It’s a serious problem, no matter what you call it.
When it comes to dealing with gambling addiction, you should try to create a support system you can rely on. Isolating yourself is the worst thing you could do. Reach out to those who care about you. Tell them the truth and let them help you. Sometimes just sharing the burden can have a tremendously positive impact.
Steer clear of places and people that could potentially lure you back into the world of gambling. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” isn’t fully applicable to compulsive behaviour, but avoiding temptation certainly makes it easier to recover. Make new habits like going to the movies or having dinner with friends on the nights you used to set aside for gambling.
Get Professional Treatment
Compulsive gamblers sometimes need extra help from rehabilitation centers. They benefit from individual or group therapy. Speaking to a mental-health professional can increase your odds of avoiding gambling in the future and even help you identify the root of the problem.
Take Your Time and Find a Pastime
Breaking an addiction is easier said than done. Don’t rush it. Don’t expect a miracle. There will be ups and downs, harder days and easier days. There may be a slip-up or two. But as long as you don’t give up, things will get better.
Our final piece of advice: Find a hobby that has nothing to do with betting or the gambling industry. Your new time can serve as a distraction, something to fill the time that you used to occupy with betting.